Estrogenicity of black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) and its effect on estrogen receptor level in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells.


Liu Z, Yang Z, Zhu M, Huo J




Wei Sheng Yan Jiu


The estrogenicity of Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa, CR) was tested in vivo and in vitro and its effect on estrogen receptor (ER) level of human breast cancer MCF-7 cells were investigated. Based on the body weight of animals, 75, 150 and 300 mg/kg of CR were administered by tube feeding to immature female mice for 14 days. Estrus was observed and the uterine and ovary weights of mice were measured. The optimal dose of CR for the growth of MCF-7 cells was screened by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazoliumbromide (MTT) assay. Subsequently, Growth curves of MCF-7 cells in blank control, 4.75 micrograms/L of CR and 0.3 nmol/L of 17 beta-estradiol groups were observed for 5 days. ER level in MCF-7 cells was analyzed by indirect immunofluorescence assay in flow cytometry. The results showed that uterine weight increased with the increasing dosage of CR and the days of estrus was significantly prolonged in the 300 mg/kg group (P < 0.05). The concentration of CR at 4.75 micrograms/L showed the strongest enhancement effects (64.7%). The doubling time (TD) of cell growth in CR group and 17 beta-estradiol group were 32.1 h and 31.7 h respectively, which were shorter than that of blank control (TD = 35.3 h). Additionally, 4.75 micrograms/L of CR significantly increased ER levels compared with the blank control (P < 0.01). Taking all the results together, CR has an estrogen-like action. The enhancing effect of CR on ER level is one of the potential mechanisms involved with its therapeutic role in climacteric syndrome.